RAMMusical

RAMMusical

Take this easy-to-use #RAMMusical trail to learn about the vast range of historical musical instruments in the museum. Discover how music affected the lives of different cultures around the world. You'll hear what these ancient instruments sounded like, and even play one yourself.

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RAMMusical Map

Arch Lute

Arch Lute

Arch Lute
(Instrument 1 of 12)

This type of instrument, also called a banjon, originated in the Mende tradition of Sierra Leone, West Africa. It was collected in Cartagena, Colombia before 1865, although how it appeared there remains a mystery. This arch lute was made from wood, animal skin, metal and figre, and suggests the continuity of African musical traditions by supposedly enslaved people.

Press the play button above to hear how an arch lute sounds!

To go to the second point, move towards the Tibet display.

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Tibetan Instruments

Tibetan Instruments

Tibetan Instruments
(Instrument 2 of 12)

This collection of instruments is used in Tibetan monasteries and rituals. The shawm is played during 'puja', a devotional time of prayer and fasting, for sacred dances and morality plays. Through 'circular breathing', musicians can play extended passages, meant to create a state of mind to invite deities.

Click the play button above to hear a shawm.

In mythology, the two-headed drum was created by Lord Shiva to produce spiritual sounds by which the universe is regulated. One beat of damaru is the origin of all beats known to man.

The drilbu represents the Feminine Wisdom essence of consciousness residing in the centre of her mandala - a spiritual and ritual symbol in Indian religions, representing the universe. Together with the 'dorje', they represent the perfect union of wisdom and compassion needed to gain enlightenment, thus the drilbu and the dorje are never parted.

To reach the third point, continue to the left.

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Drum (ntumpane)

Drum (ntumpane)

Drum (ntumpane)
(Instrument 3 of 12)

A Ghanan instrument, the skin of the drum is usually made from an elephant's ear. The rope comes from the Obofunu plant, and the spirits of the Ofema tree are praised for providing the pegs for the Ntumpane drums. These drums have been used as a means of communication since very early times, and messages can be transmitted over great distances as their notes reproduce the spoken words of the human voice.

To see point four, move to the right.

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Xylophone

Xylophone

Xylophone
(Instrument 4 of 12)

The gyil is the primary traditional instrument of the Dagara people of northern Ghana and Burkina Faso, and of the Lobi of Ghana, southern Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast. The gyil is usually played in pairs, accompanied by a calabash (a type of vine used as a bottle, utensil, or pipe) gourd drum called a kuor. In a fixed-key balafon, the keys are suspended by leather straps just above a wooden frame, under which are hung graduated-size calabash gourd resonators. A small hole in each gourd is covered with a membrane traditionally of thin spider's-egg sac filaments to produce the characteristic nasal-buzz timbre of the instrument.

This is an interactive piece; try to play a song!

To go to the fifth point, move to the Courtyard in the middle of the museum and search in the large display case.

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"Apollo Lyre" or Guitar

"Apollo Lyre" or Guitar

"Apollo Lyre" or Guitar
(Instrument 5 of 12)

Greek myth tells that the god Hermes created the lyre from a slaughtered cow stolen from Apollo's sacred herd. The cow's intestines formed the strings. Apollo discovered the theft and Hermes gave him the instrument. This more recent stringed instrument, made from spruce, sycamore and African hardwood, is actually guitar shaped to look like an ancient Greek lyre. This instrument was constructed by Yaniewicz & Co. in Liverpool sometime between 1800 and 1810.

Keep looking in this display cabinet to find the sixth item.

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Neapolitan Mandolin

Neapolitan Mandolin

Neapolitan Mandolin
(Instrument 6 of 12)

This instrument was made between 1810 and 1830, out of sycamore, redwood and spruce, with ebony inlay on the bridge, ivory pins and tortoiseshell plectrum plate. Mandolins are descendants of a type of medieval lute. The Neapolitan style, known as 'round-back' or 'bowl-back', has a vaulted back formed from a number of strips of wood.

Press the play button above to hear a Neapolitan mandolin.

To find the seventh point, find Case Histories the room with Gerald the Giraffe in.

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Italian Harpsichord

Italian Harpsichord

Italian Harpsichord
(Instrument 7 of 12)

The harpsichord was most probably invented in the late Middle Ages. By the 16th century, harpsichord makers in Italy were making lightweight instruments with low string tension. Most of the music for harpsichords was written during the Renaissance and Baroque eras, and although it was almost completely supplanted by the piano in the 19th century, by the 20th composers returned to it seeking variation in the sounds available to them.

Press the button on the display to hear the instrument play!

To go to point eight, go down the staircase and through Down to Earth, with the fossils in, to the Making history gallery

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Bone Flutes

Bone Flutes

Bone Flutes
(Instrument 8 of 12)

Each of these flutes, found in Exeter, were carved out of animal bones. Such flutes are normally made from sheep bones, or those of large birds like swans. By looking at the amount of wear on the instruments, historians are able to make educated guesses as to how much they were used. One of the flutes here is very smooth, suggesting it was much used. Many fragments of medieval bone flutes have been excavated in Exeter.

Press the play button above to listen to a bone flute!

To reach point nine, continue to look in Making History, moving towards the Queen Street end of the gallery.

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Alabaster Angel

Alabaster Angel

Alabaster Angel
(Instrument 9 of 12)

An angel playing the lute, probably from a larger panel relating to the Life of the Virgin Mary. This piece and others were discovered in the early 19th century. They seem to have been rescued from the destruction of the Reformation and buried in a box. This is the only piece whose whereabouts is known today.

To see point ten, move to the last display case in Making History.

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Coral Rattle on Silver Whistle

Coral Rattle on Silver Whistle

Coral Rattle on Silver Whistle
(Instrument 10 of 12)

This high quality piece was a gift from Mrs Denham, a follower of the Exeter Prophetess Joanna Southcott for the Shiloh, for her expected child who was prophesied to be the new Messiah. Southcott had announced that she was the 'Woman of the Apocalypse' spoken of in Revelation. After her death, as her followers retained her body for some time, in the belief that she would be raised from the dead. They agreed to its burial only after it began to decay.

To go to point eleven, continue into the next room.

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Virginal

Virginal

Virginal
(Instrument 11 of 12)

A stringed musical instrument, rather like a harpsichord. virginals may derive their name from the young women that played them, or from the Latin virga meaning a rod, perhaps referring to the wooden jacks that rest on the ends of the keys. The maker, Charles Rewallin, worked in St Sidwell's Parish. We know of only two instruments made by him that still survive. Rewallin's virginals are almost identical to one another, the only major difference being two double-strung bass notes in the instrument at Taunton.

To hear a virginal play, press the play button above!

Look up to your right and notice a painting of musician William Jackson (1730-1803) playing a harp.

To find the final point, continue to the courtyard in the middle of the museum and look up.

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Keyed or Kent Bugles

Keyed or Kent Bugles

Keyed or Kent Bugles
(Instrument 12 of 12)

The traditional bugle is a simple wind instrument that has no valves and all pitch is controlled by the mouth. In 1811 Joseph Haliday patented the 'Kent' bugle, named in honour of the Duke of Kent. Holiday added keys to allow a greater range of sound, making it popular with military bands and orchestras. This variant of the bugle fell out of use with the invention of the valved cornet.

Press the play button above to listen to a keyed bugle.

Congratulations on completing the trail, we hope you had fun and learned about music in different cultures and different times!

Make sure to sure your experiences on this trail using #RAMMusical on social media.

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My RAMMusical Notes

RAMMusical

RAMMusical

Take this easy-to-use #RAMMusical trail to learn about the vast range of historical musical instruments in the museum. Discover how music affected the lives of different cultures around the world. You'll hear what these ancient instruments sounded like, and even play one yourself.

Items marked by a blue icon are located on the first floor while items marked by a maroon icon are located on the ground floor. This trail begins in the World Cultures Galleries, African section on the first floor.

This trail will take approximately 30 minutes.

This trail was created by the Performing Digital Humanities students at the University of Exeter (Adam Smith, Cara Minnix, Georgina Sloan, Tony Lea).

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